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April 7, 2013

Rainey plans to seek second term as sheriff

Sheriff Mike Rainey kicked off a new political season with the announcement Saturday that he would seek a second term of office.

Speaking to a gathering of the Cullman County Republican Club, Rainey outlined numerous issues the sheriff’s office has addressed in his first term. From restructuring the internal organization of the department to aggressively attacking the illegal drug trade in Cullman County, the sheriff said he would like to carry forward those efforts into a second term.

Qualifying for the office doesn’t open until this summer, but Rainey said he has been asked by many residents about his plans.

“I wanted to come forward and let people know that I will be seeking a second term as their sheriff. I understand that I am a steward of your tax dollars and that’s why the sheriff’s department has worked to provide the best service possible while operating with the same budget for three years,” Rainey said in a follow up interview with The Times Saturday afternoon.

Rainey came into office 28 months ago and pledged to tackle the county’s drug problems head-on, noting that the Cullman Narcotics Enforcement Team and Cullman County deputies have made 2,913 drug-related arrests.

“These arrests included the largest drug roundup in Cullman County’s history,” Rainey said. “We feel like we are making a difference because the number of complaints have gone down as the number of arrests have increased. But we know this is a problem you have to stay focused on at all times. I made a commitment that I would do everything in my power to stop the spread of drugs in Cullman County during my entire term, and not just at election time.”

Rainey also noted that computers have been installed in every  patrol car, which connects patrol deputies directly to the department’s central data base, dispatchers, investigators and jail.

“The system also helps protect our deputies as it enables us to better monitor what is happening as they respond to a call. The new software is also an invaluable tool to our investigators as it helps them in their efforts to solve serious crimes in our county,” Rainey said.

The computer program enables the sheriff’s office, Cullman Police Department and Hanceville Police Department to quickly share information.

Rainey said his department has increased patrols throughout the county, strengthened Neighborhood Watch programs, increased presence in local schools, and started the Yellow Dot program to add protection for some of the county’s most vulnerable citizens.

“From my first day in office we put more people and resources into our investigations division. In our first year we broke up one of the largest farm equipment theft rings in the state, simply because we refused to turn a blind eye to crime in order to gain political favor,” Rainey said. “Since I came into office, our investigations division has solved 30 percent of theft cases, while the national average is 12.7 percent. We have solved 28 percent of burglary cases, compared to the national average of 12.7 percent, and murder and violent crime we solved 72 percent, and the national average is 22 percent.”

Rainey also has put in place a community alert system that notifies resident by text or Internet of a jailbreak or dangerous criminal loose in specific areas. The system was used last week when deputies were tracking down three suspects following a break-in at a pharmacy in Dodge City.

“We have made progress, but there is still more work to be done. We need to keep the momentum going and continue our fight against crime. Good law enforcement requires a concentrated, long-term effort to ultimately be successful. That’s why I’m seeking a second term as sheriff,” Rainey said.

The primary is in 2014.

David Palmer may be contacted at dpalmer@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 213.

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